resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09
It's "Back to School" Time!
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Becoming a massage therapist requires a great deal of preparation, perhaps the most visible and tangible being basic education. In the not-so-distant past, the most common forms of massage education were mentoring and apprenticeship.This is no longer the case; in fact, in many jurisdictions apprenticeship is no longer recognized as valid educational eligibility for the legal right to practice. These days, almost all prospective massage therapists go to school. Jurisdictions no longer recognize the validity of apprenticeship, primarily because the quality of instruction is so difficult to gauge.
How does one equate an apprenticeship to standardized vocational training in a school setting? Vocational schools are almost always under the oversight of a state Department of Education. However, as we all know, massage education is far from "standardized." Without going into the quantity of education required to practice -- that's a discussion for another day -- my concern in this article is the quality of education received by massage therapists entering the field today.
Formal schooling appears to have many benefits over apprenticeship. In a regulated environment, regulating entities should have an easier time verifying eligibility criteria. In an unregulated environment, prospective clients should be able to benefit from the reputation of an institution that graduates many therapists. Prospective students should be able to realize economies of scale from an institution that provides services to many students. A matriculating student should be able to benefit from feedback from multiple instructors and peers. But is formal schooling providing these benefits? If so, why do so many practicing first- and second-year therapists indicate to me that they are pretty good, "in spite of" their schooling? More important to the public, why is it that a given number of schools, all with state Department of Education oversight, will graduate just as many classes with vastly different levels of ability and/or knowledge? Has the business of massage education superceded the duty of massage education: to best prepare a student to be competitive as a practicing therapist? Lastly, why do so many recent graduates complain that they were ill prepared for how incredibly difficult it can be to establish a full-time practice that actually pays the bills?
Let me interject that I am not starting a rant on the sorry state of massage education in the U.S.! There is much superb massage schooling available to the ever-increasing numbers of potential students. What I am saying is that I believe there is much too much disparity in the levels of educational quality within any given state, and certainly among states. I see two causes of this phenomenon. First, precious few instructors of massage therapy have had any formal training in education, other than an in-house qualification program. Second, a massage school that markets effectively can succeed financially without obtaining institutional and/or programmatic accreditation.
The scarcity of experienced teachers is problematic for students and school owners alike. The inability to hire enough individuals capable of meeting appropriate guidelines forces schools to staff positions with less than desirable candidates. In my state, an instructor must possess the following qualifications to teach in a post-secondary private vocational institution:
These qualifications are very similar to those in many other states. While the situation of last year's student being this year's teacher is not as prevalent as it was several years ago, I feel certain that many of today's massage instructors have neither a teaching credential nor five years experience. It is my observation that regulators overseeing post-secondary education tend not place much emphasis on proprietary vocational schoolteacher qualifications.
The lack of ubiquitous school accreditation compounds this problem. I applaud those schoolowners who go the extra mile and spend the extra money to have their institutions and programs accredited by valid accrediting bodies. While there are many unaccredited schools providing superior education, it is my opinion that the accredited schools are those that best:
I find that ill-trained massage therapists are not just a problem to be solved by a free market economy. These therapists are a problem for your practice and my practice. Today's clients walk in the door with expectations they didn't have 10 or 15 years ago. We have made great strides in educating the public on the benefits of massage therapy. A colleague I was speaking to by telephone mentioned that potential clients have the expectation that we, as massage therapists, have viable protocols for the management of muscular dysfunction and can pull from a large tool bag of options to benefit our clients. Even clients booking appointments for the more pampering aspects of our trade frequently present with low back and/or neck issues that need to be addressed before they can relax on the table. Therapists who aren't competitive in ability and provide less- than-expected service can turn clients off massage therapy forever. On the other hand, if they lack the knowledge and ability because they were never taught properly, how much can we blame them?
Kudos to those schools who are solving these problems every day!
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to the address listed below:
Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
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